A few months ago I had the pleasure of attending a Deloitte paper launch and the guest speaker was Peter Cochrane. I’d not heard of Peter before but he eloquently (and authoritatively) put forward an argument that I have tried to explain to stakeholders across the province. While it’s hard to get the full effect of his persuasive speech, you can view his FTTH @ Last slides at the link above.
His core argument was:
During the talk, he said that if an internet link is not 100 Mbps up and down then it’s not broadband. Many people scoff but they fail to realise several things about the demand for broadband. The demand is there, it’s entirely in the supply that we see the issue.
In 2003, it was exciting to download a 3 Megabyte music file from the newly opened iTunes Store. My broadband was 512 Kbps down, 256Kbps up and it had a reported 20:1 contention. In 2013, my bandwidth demands have increased a thousandfold. I want to download 3.2 Gigabyte movie files from the iTunes Store. But my broadband speeds have increased only by a factor of 10 in a decade. I’m imminently to order BT Infinity but that only can provide 24-80 Mbps (“SuperFast broadband”) and not the 80 Mbps+ (“UltraFast broadband”) that the modern media consumer demands. And that’s just the download speed because idiots have, over the last few years, decreed that download speed is the only important metric.
There are four metrics I measure broadband by:
Upload speeds are just as important (and more important for the media industry) and they tend to still be sub-10 Mbps. Contention on BT Infinity is 50:1 – the opposite of contention is a term called “non-blocking” where everyone paying for access gets the access they are paying for. When Telcos promise a certain bandwidth, they’re actually selling that same object fifty times to their customers and you’re all supposed to share. (The logic being that not everyone will be downloading at the same time). Latency is, for most people in our industry, immaterial though you can feel the effect in online games, video-conferencing calls and other time-senstiive operations. In many cases, the latency is not caused at the “broadband” end but due to the series of interactions between you and your content across the Internet. The delicious irony being that if your upload speed is limited, your latency jumps considerably as your “content requests” are competing with your uploads.
One of Peter’s slides regarding the island of Jersey:
(He goes on to clarify that 3G runs at 14 Mbits, WiFi at 50 Mbps.)
100Mbit for 299kr (£25) a month is the slowest broadband in Sweden. And it goes up to a Gig for £75 a month
Keep this in mind when talking about our “digital platform”. Our broadband needs to improve by a factor of 100 for our consumer markets and for our business markets, probably 100 times that.